PricewaterhouseCoopers Russia (PwC) will come
under renewed scrutiny in a Moscow court as lawyers for the jailed
former owners of the Yukos oil group, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and
Platon Lebedev, fight charges of embezzlement.
Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are expected to claim
that PwC withdrew 10 years of Yukos audits due to pressure from the
Kremlin, various media sources have reported.
PwC withdrew its 1996 to 2006 Yukos audits
after its Moscow office was raided by police in June 2007. At the
time, there was also a court case that threatened its operating
PwC has denied the allegations, claiming that
the Russian government had renewed its operating licence in April
2007. The Big Four firm said the decision to revoke its audit
opinions was made when prosecutors provided information that
indicated the Yukos management had lied on several key issues.
Khodorkovsky’s legal problems began in 2003.
When Russian prosecutors brought another set of tax evasion charges
against him in 2007, PwC was also placed under a preliminary
The case against PwC was dropped after the
firm withdrew its audit opinion.